its kind of like studying for some big exam,
that one where you’re up all goddamn night
in sleep-hungry, caffeine-infused desperation
nail biting and highlighting and just reading
your eyes into the pages, writing your fingers
into knots and trying to force-squeeze-cram it
all in, only then you finally walk in, sit down,
write your name, and it’s suddenly a foreign
language, it’s impossible to understand and
was this even covered in class? but the girl
always two desks to the right is still too far away
for any of her answers to be decipherable

then it’s more like being caught in the tide,
gripped by pairs of great, curling cerulean fists
jerking and pulling and pounding like some
overzealous washing machine, repeatedly grinding
you into the sand until your skin’s rubbed raw
and blaring pink, until every inch of you is
screaming, tingling, but at the same time the
weight of the waves is so thick that it’s all quiet,
that the cacophony of every thunderous heartache
and crackling disappointment is muted to
a heavy hush that presses itself out from your
insides and back into your ears, bleaching out your
hand-stitched uncertainties – then it’s almost
better, some hypothermic serenity, and you
stay with your glassy eyes searching for
the surface, not wanting to go there but
knowing you’ll have to come up eventually

but really it’s like just growing up in the city,
playing behind back alley dumpsters and sneaking down
fire escapes, with a neatly rolled stick of cancer
and nicotine propped too nonchalantly between
your runaway-fire-engine lips, walking purposefully
pigeon-toed in combat boots you bought pre-worn and
broken in, always cooped up in that concrete jungle
sort of shit until you got kicked out of that pretentious
ass prep school where everyone pretended to like
everyone else, cut off and shipped away by your
artificial socialite parents, down some endless, two-lane
strip of expired highway to where the aesthetic steel
reflections didn’t reach; with mountains higher than the
cutting snowflakes you used to rearrange on
flashing mirrors, where suddenly the glaring lights are
gone and the galaxies overhead aren’t outshone
enough to lick you clean with their starshine, and you
think even though this wasn’t where you were going,
maybe it was where you had intended to end up